(contains pictures that keep it real with the first few weeks)
The last month or so of my pregnancy I was beyond miserable. I couldn't sleep at all and was spending my nights in the recliner. It wasn't just getting comfortable, but I was up nonstop itching like crazy. All over but mainly on my hands. At night it was out of control and between that and no sleep I was starting to lose it. Finally at a couple days past 36 weeks I did a google search in the middle of the night for "itching during pregnancy worse at night." It came up with something called obstetric cholestasis. The main symptom was itching that was typically worse at night and primarily the hands and feet which was exactly how I felt. So that Monday I brought it up to my doctor. He tested me that day. The concern being that it can cause still born by your bile acids crossing over into the placenta.
Those next couple days just dragged. I was doing my Christmas mini sessions that week which at least kept me busy. I called every day and luckily they were so nice about me being a total pest. Finally Thursday night they called and told me that I did have it and would deliver at 37 weeks. Which they didn't realize would be the next day and my OB was about to be on vacation with the following week being Thanksgiving. They told me they would call tomorrow to tell me a delivery day.
When I still hadn't heard by about lunch the next day I decided to call and left a voicemail. Finally at about 3pm they called and asked if I could be there at 6 for my c section. Panic set in. No bag packed, no last minute shopping for milk, Molly was in school, and a million other things you experience when it's not a planned c section like I'm use to I guess.
It all felt really weird. I had been saying his birthday was December 4th for so long that rushing around November 20th to have him in a couple hours seemed crazy. I wanted to have him so he was safe and here, but 37 weeks seemed early and I didn't feel mentally prepared for something I'd been waiting for 9 months to happen.
This is where that life changing event comes in. I have to pause and cry a bit while I think of the words.
I had imagined his birth since we found out like most women do. When they said he was a boy I dreamed about meeting a son. When the new pediatrician said she unties your hands and lets you do skin to skin now I was over the moon. This was the last time I'd be doing this. My last birth. My last first moments with a newborn. It got me through those awful nights, but that's not how it happened unfortunately.
The doctor pulled him out and the whole it's a boy and everyone is happy and I just laid there waiting. Waiting for that cry. Just a whimper. I knew right then. While everyone told me oh it's fine he's just taking a bit, I knew. They didn't hand him to me or let me see him. The nurse had him on the warmer working on him. All I could do was watch and then he was gone. Adam went with him and for however long I was still in surgery just waiting.
When I was waiting in the room after surgery and he still hadn't come back I just knew. He wasn't going to stay with me. Our hospital is pretty small and when babies need a NICU they have to be sent to the city and moms have to stay. It was my biggest fear and it was happening. Not only was I not ready for all of this, but now it felt like he was being ripped away.
Adam kept coming to give updates and I could see it on his face. Finally they made the decision to send him to Children's Mercy. He couldn't be life flighted because of weather so their transport team came to get him. I can't even begin to describe how amazing the nurses there were. Our pastor came and we made the decision to have him baptized then. They wheeled my bed out and let me watch while a nurse recorded it on my phone. I was watching Nolan, but I couldn't help keeping my eyes on Adam. Seeing tears in his eyes and the fear it felt like me and him. We were in this together with the same amount of love and fear for this little person that we created. No one else felt how we felt over this happening to Nolan and it felt like a bond that we would need each other to get through it.
The nurses then moved everything out of the way to get my huge bed into this tiny nursery so I could touch him before he left. Just having your baby and only being able to touch their little hand is heart breaking. Seeing him laying there perfectly still and just working to breath was terrifying.
They told me that as long as I could walk and get around I could leave early. So I laid in bed moving my legs and lifting my feet just trying to get the epidural to wear off. Then the transport team came in with Nolan so I could see him before he left. Seeing your child like that is so hard to put into words. I flat out asked the EMT if we would be taking Nolan home. I didn't know. I was so confused as to if this was something really serious or if it was just really common and he would be fine. I felt like I had to ask because you look at your baby like that and you have no clue what is going on.
The next day was kind of a blur. They gave me an anti anxiety pill and I spent most of the day alone just trying to show I could walk by showering and cleaning up and then the rest of the time zoned out sitting in my bed. No TV on or phone. I just sat there in the silence. They wouldn't let me leave that day but said I could on Sunday. So I just kept moving so I could get out of there. The hurt of having someone inside your belly moving and being connected and then just nothing. It was the longest day of my life. There were no joyous visits and celebrating. It was just waiting to be with my son.
Nolan spent a total of 5 days in the NICU. We got really lucky. I can't say enough about Children's Mercy. It was by far the worse experience of my life and wait made it bearable was their amazing hospital and the Ronald McDonald house.
The whole thing was just mind numbing, but I really learned a lot about myself as a mom. I don't really see myself being hard on myself again over the little things or feeling inadequate. I worked to get out of that hospital. When Nolan needed a certain number of feedings to leave we rushed home to get the girls and pack more stuff and then rushed back. Adam dropped me off at the hospital doors with two bags and a pump and I power walked to the NICU on the 3rd floor to make it back in time 3 days after surgery. It's like you go into this mode were your comfort is set aside and you just do it. You do it because they need it and more than your own needs what a mom really needs is for her child to be OK. You realize just how dependent your life is on theirs.
(The last night there Nolan and I spent in a parent room and I took some pictures that just showed the reality and kept on in the following weeks. I wanted to share some even though they aren't rainbows and there are leaky boobs and saggy bellies it's how it was and it's beautiful perfect or not.)
They decide that he had something called TTN which is fluid in the lungs at birth. It happens in babies born early or in c sections.
His birth wasn't what I dreamed. It was my last one and it was not what I expected at all. Then three weeks later we were back in the ICU with RSV reliving all those horrible emotions from birth. Now at 6 weeks we are just hoping it is all behind us and we can go back to the mundane life we were living. So there it is. He came in like a wrecking ball. He cries all the time and nurses like it's going out of style. I'm sleeping on the couch with him next to me. Life is going on and we're tired and busy, but it's absolutely perfect and every second is worth it.